It’s estimated that more than 600,000 people in the United States alone die from heart disease. That’s one out of every four deaths, making heart disease the biggest killer in the nation. The most common form of deadly heart disease is CHD, or coronary heart disease with over 370,000 deaths. Meanwhile, nearly three quarter of a million Americans will suffer a heart attack in a given year. One of the biggest reasons these numbers are so high is because of too many people with high cholesterol.
More than 100 million adults in the United States suffer from high cholesterol currently. It’s not genetics or tough luck that that plays into high cholesterol for most people. Instead, it’s a poor diet that contains a lot of artery clogging food. If you want to lower your cholesterol naturally before it’s too late, there are certain foods you should be eating. Even if you’ve already suffered from heart disease, adding these foods to your diet can improve your heart health, and some people have been able to naturally remedy their heart disease, getting away from medications.
A group of foods that has “fatty” in the name doesn’t really sound like it would be good for your cholesterol, but you might be surprised. Fatty fish, which includes salmon, trout and others, are great since they contain omega-3 fatty acids. These are the fats that you want in your system because they have the opposite effect of saturated fats. Omega-3 acids can eliminate triglycerides and slow down plaque growth, improving the LDL (bad cholesterol) along the way. Even if you’re just taking fish oil supplements, you’re still doing yourself a service.
You can probably assume that drinking too much doesn’t bode well for your heart health (and we’ll remind you a little later), but drinking certain types of alcohol in moderation can actually be beneficial. Of all alcohols, red wine has the biggest benefit for your heart as it’s able to lower cholesterol naturally. Studies showed that people with high cholesterol that drank 13.5 ounces of red wine each day for six weeks were able to lower their LDL by nearly 10 percent, while increasing their HDL (good cholesterol) by 17 percent. Just don’t drink the entire bottle!
Peas not only taste delicious, but they’re also a huge source of soluble fiber. When you eat more soluble fiber, your body doesn’t absorb nearly as much cholesterol into your system. This makes peas a great choice, as long as you’re not buttering them up too much. Studies showed that over the course of six weeks, you can lower your LDL levels by more than percent by eating 4.5 ounces of peas or other similar legumes. The research also said people are only eating around one quarter of that amount on a daily basis.
Because of the nutritional value, just about any fruit is going to be beneficial for your cholesterol levels. However, it’s the most common one in the United States, the apple, that has one of the biggest benefits. A study of more than 150 women had one group eating apples while the others ate prunes, with no other differences in the diets. It was found that the women who ate apples lowered their LDL by an incredible 23 percent, while slightly boosting their HDL levels.
Nuts really are a fantastic thing, and if it weren’t for their high calorie content and price, most of us would live off of the many varieties. Almonds performed well in studies by slightly dropping LDL and raising HDL, while walnuts took it even further. It was pecans that came out on top, though. One study showed that people who ate 20 percent of their calories from pecans lowered their LDL and triglyceride levels by more than 10 percent, with a more than five percent increase in HDL.
No matter how you say tomato, just know that this fruit (yes, it’s not a vegetable) is great for your cholesterol. One study split a group of people that ate no products containing tomatoes, while the other gave people 30 mg of ketchup and 400 mg of tomato juice. The LDL levels of the people who were getting more tomatoes dropped by 12.9 points, which researchers credited to the high amounts of lycopene and beta-carotene. It even made the bodies more resistant to further LDL development in the future, ensuring long term heart health.
Avocados are very trendy these days, and you tend to see them used in just about every restaurant now. One study had people eating an entire avocado each day, and it was able to lower their LDL levels by 13.5 points. Doctors suggested that you don’t eat an entire avocado on a daily basis, but said that working them into your diet is sure to have some tremendous benefits, with fiber playing a large role.
We all like to indulge on chocolate from time to time, but if you’re able to contain yourself to a small amount of dark chocolate in favor of your standard candy bar, you’ll see a drop in your LDL levels. Studies that had participants eat a modest amount of dark chocolate over the course of four weeks saw an eight percent drop in their LDL levels, while also increasing HDL levels by four percent. Researchers said it was the high amount of antioxidants that played a big role, so dessert isn’t necessarily off the table if you want to lower cholesterol!
Foods to Avoid
If you feel (or even know) that you’re at risk for high cholesterol, there are certain foods you’ll want to cut out of your diet immediately. Eggs seem to come and go from the list of foods that are either bad or good for your cholesterol, but more recent studies say that they’re good in moderation. Doctors suggest a balance between foods such as eggs and other foods, saying that if you eat eggs, try to eat more vegetables throughout the day.
Red meat is one food that never leaves the list of foods that can raise your cholesterol, however. The saturated fat content in most fast food chains is quite high, so avoid those at all costs. Sadly, you’ll also have to give up some treats you love, with ice cream being the biggest culprit. The standard ice cream is packed with saturated fat and calories that can lead to poor cholesterol and weight gain in no time.
Other Ways to Lower Cholesterol
Eating all of these types of foods as the base of your diet will result in lower cholesterol and better heart health, but you can even take it a step further…literally. Exercise is the other big key for lower cholesterol, and doctors suggest that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. This can be something as simple as walking, as long as you’re getting up and around for a half hour. This ends up helping you burn more calories as a result, and lowering your weight by just five percent tremendously improves your cholesterol.
While food is the biggest vice for many of us, the age old ones of alcohol and tobacco are still very prevalent today. If you smoke or drink beyond moderation, consider cutting these out of your diet immediately. Studies have showed that within just mere hours of getting away from these vices, you’ll start showing better signs of heart health. Follow all of these steps, and you’re on your way to better cholesterol, and a reduction in your chance of potentially deadly heart disease!